Joe Redman

Pry Part 2

The second half of Pry mixes up the format even more with new ways to tell its story. Something that happened earlier but occurred again during chapter 5 was the protagonist’s eyesight briefly going numb. During this the moment, the user can’t see what is going on either, so they have no choice but to look at one of the other two perspectives until he puts in eye drops. This doesn’t necessarily limit how the story is told, but only how some of it appears. In chapter 7 the story takes on an entirely different form. Only a paragraph appears on the screen and the user can continually stretch it out, revealing more text. I found this one of the most difficult parts of the story to follow. Having to jump back and forth to different lines and figuring out how they are connected made the experience a bit frustrating. This exemplifies how involved the form is when it comes to the content. In Chapter 7, there is purely video that can swap in and out, creating multiple montages mixed together. I think the author made a creative connection between having the presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush in the same chapter to illustrate that the world conflict represented in the story lasted several generations. I think the general theme of the story is redemption. The protagonist is trying to save himself from his own PTSD of war, but also clear up and make light of his understanding with his friend. Him going blind gives him more anxiety. As we saw, where people are the most anxious is deep inside.

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Pry is an app that tells a story in a unique way. It is all within the first-person perspective starting with chapter 1 however, there are three perspectives within the main character. There is what he sees in the real world. These are usually shown through video. There are his immediate thoughts which are usually shown as white text in front of a black background. Then there is his deep consciousness. Here the viewer sees all sorts of abstract things that tend to loosely connect to what he is looking at or thinking about. These three perspectives can be looked at anytime by using two fingers to simulate prying open or closing his eyes. Most of the experience is this process of prying eyes, but in one chapter, the user holds their device horizontally and simulates the experience of reading braille as they slide their finger over the screen. The braille is even read out loud in real time. The story isn’t super clear, but from what I understand it starts with the protagonist leaving to join the military. The story jumps past all of that and his experience in the military is told through flashbacks. They are flashbacks because you see them in his head. These flashbacks were so vivid that I was sometimes caught off guard in which of the three perspectives I was looking at. What drives the story forward is the user checking in on all three perspectives. You can’t move on if you only look at one.

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Final Project Overview

I am going to be putting together a Twine project based around the storytelling one of my favorite video games, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. The game has become known for being a massive facelift of the Zelda series and revolutionizing the open world genre. It gives the player complete freedom to travel its world and discover things in any order. Because of this, cutscenes that tell of the game’s story also must be discovered during your own exploration if you want to see all of them. In fact, many of them don’t have to be found to finish the game. There are instances where a character that progresses the story will say something different to you depending on what else you have done and who you have met. Much of it is about revealing story rather than creating it. It is possible to walk straight to final boss and finish the game under an hour if you are that good. Because of how scattered the story is the player may decide to put it all together and interpret it as they want. Because the game and its story are so open every player has a different experience and many have shared them online or with friends. Breath of the Wild also tells its story passively through its setting as the player travels a world filled with ruins. The Twine will be organized in a way that that resembles the world map. It will feature important landmarks, spots that show how parts of the story are structured.

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Divergent Streams

Technology allows creators to tell stories in just about anyway they can imagine. They are no longer limited by print and have the opportunity to come up with unique methods that help convey their story the best way possible. These sorts of modern stories oftentimes revolve around various types of hardware and screens. Some stories like Text Rain take the elements our languages have been using for centuries and find unique uses for them. It could even be called a new form of reading, not just playing. The rise of virtual reality has been a slow one. Ever heard of the Virtual Boy Nintendo made in the 90’s? It only had the colors red and black. It was a massive flop and they’re just now getting back into trying out virtual reality. Obviously since the virtual boy, technology has gotten much better. I think there is much potential with placing yourself in a space where you are completely surrounded by the world the story is being told in. I’m looking forward to when VR becomes cheaper and wireless. The less boundaries there are the better. I have seen a bit of worrying going on that concerns people being too intimate with the VR experience. Wearing a VR headset with headphones is a convincing way to remove you from reality. I think if it is done in moderation and users take the headset off every hour or so to check what is going on, things will be fine. AR is something I have had more experience with. I have seen it used in museums to give more info on exhibits. Some even include animations. Pokémon GO introduced many to AR too.

“Virtual and augmented reality have also provided new tools and approaches for the presentation of narrative and poetic works of electronic literature in immersive environments.”

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Google Alphabet Now (3/8)

The Most Popular Search Result for Each Letter


Bank of America






Home Depot

International Women’s Day

Jan Michael Vincent





Office Depot



R Kelly

Southwest Airlines


US Bank






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Network Writing

Typically, reading a story alone is just that. It’s your own personal experience and the only way to share it is if your right next to another person or go online to talk about it after a reading session. In Degenerative, the original page can be read just as a normal web page, but it is a work that exists to remind you that many people may look at it considering it’s the internet. Like a normal web page, it at first glance makes you forget that it is connected to a network as the site doesn’t appear to change. The catch with this work was that the more people that read it, the more broken the text would become eventually resulting in a near blank page. This work made me think about how in some cases, the user has more influence than the creator. When everyone is given the ability to affect something on the internet, they run wild with it. This is why moderation exists on so many websites that contain user generated content. The sites that aren’t moderated go down in infamy because they have become places under near complete control of users. I Love Alaska freaked me out a little because it reminded me that search engines remember everything you type in. The story consisted entirely of one person’s search phrases, but that was enough to reveal her personality and drop major hints about what was going on in her life. The literary value of these works is the network itself. They involve many people.

“Networks are both technological and social structures. For electronic literature, networks are both platform and material.”-Rettberg, pg 152

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I was introduced to an earlier chapter of How to Rob a Bank in a Digital Storytelling class last semester. In the earlier chapter the focus was not at all on the character as a person, but all the actions he was doing on his phone. What he was doing made it clear that he was a not so bright bank robber. In this fourth chapter, the focus is on a different person’s phone. It looks to be the wife “Sarah” typing things in. She treats it as a blog and reveals much more detail then her husband did. She seems to be acting just like any other enthusiastic mother would about her child, except for the very awkward fact that she bluntly states that she and her husband are still both into bank robbing. Sarah and the husband who looks to be named “Robert” are even using aliases to hide themselves. What makes all these chapters immersive is that they directly simulate through screen-caps the experience of looking at a smart phone. It made a whole world and story just through screen-caps.  In CityFish, the story and characters are mostly fleshed out through text, but its world is built through the various photos and videos spread throughout.

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Sounds Poems and Shy Boy

In Sound Poems, all is handed over to the user. It contains 6 poems to interact with and none of them contain any sort of symbolism. While these poems focus on sounds themselves, I am reminded that sound is very important in traditional written poetry especially when it comes to rhythm and reading them out loud. This set of poems embraces that aspect. These poems are very visual too as the user may drag the letters all around the screen. There isn’t terribly much the user may create using these poems, so I think of these poems as a demo for what could potentially be done with interactive poetry that have more description and symbolism. The poem Shy Boy has the more symbolic poetry that readers have become to expect but can especially be read as a concrete poem or Vispo. The ways that some of the words and phrases are presented emphasize their meaning. The word “melt” falls down below. The word “vanish” slowly disappears. The phrase “not to be there” pops out very quickly. “Pencil smudge” is smudged under a layer of gray. The words that begin and restart the poem, “Enter” and “re-read” are red. This symbolizes the hardships the boy goes through.

“Interactive digital poetry further considers the relationship between reader and text as a recursive feedback loop.”

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Blackbar and Device 6

In the mobile game Blackbar, the meaning of its story and the gameplay are very closely tied together. It is full of censorship and it is up to the player to figure out what is being covered by the black bars. My first reaction to it was that it felt kind of like Mad Libs. The difference is that there are specific correct answers. The key to figuring out what the censored words are is by using the context of the sentences they are placed in and how long the black bar is. This sort of progression system is the only thing that keeps this format from being just like the more traditional format of text. That is why it is so engaging. Device 6 is a more complicated interactive story. Rather than being presented with traditional paragraphs, the user must slide the text and other content all around and solve puzzles. The solutions to these puzzles are found within the content itself. They require thinking, but not as much guessing. For both of these games, the extra time I spend thinking about the solutions of the puzzles oftentimes passively make me consider the overall themes of the works.

“Electronic literature can be thought of as situated somewhere between a number of related practices and cultures, including print literary culture, arts practice, computer science, and performance.”-Rettberg pg. 88

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Music Streaming in the 90’s

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How my Boyfriend Came Back From the War is set apart

In My Boyfriend Came Back From the War, Lialina immediately captures the user’s attention with the affordances hypertext provide. People who are used to print might be thrown off by the black background with white text. Combinatory poetics are used greatly. The story is organized by several boxes that each contain their own string of dialogue or thought. When the user clicks on a box, the next phrase appears. As the about page points out, the user can click on the boxes in whichever order they want, thereby putting the user in a spot where they potentially must memorize the content of several boxes at a time. This personally makes me interpret the structure of work as something akin to the person’s mind constantly jumping between several thoughts when they meet a person they care about for the first time in a long while. The images used are reflective of the author’s present situation and those like the clock and 20th Century Fox logo are symbols. It’s important that many of the images are also things that can be clicked on, oftentimes appearing instead of text. Images aren’t used to compliment the story, but also partly tell it. This and the other works differ from earlier hypertext by being quicker, having more variety in their content, and being free to access online.

“With its use of browser frames, hypertext, and images (both animated and still), My Boyfriend Came Back from the War highlights the parallels and divergences between cinema and the web as artistic and mass mediums, and explores the then-emerging language of the net.”

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The Potential of Hypertext

I grew up mainly reading conventional books under parents that really pushed traditional print material. I was fascinated by how in kids’ books, the words and pictures were directly connected to one another. Both paint an image of what the characters are doing and how they look. Still very early on in my life I was introduced to pc software and went on to interact with both print and digital stories for a while. As I have gotten older though, digital stories have taken over my life. Video games especially have been my go-to for the most immersive stories and worlds. Honestly, print-based media has been relegated to text books for me. I believe the potential of the print-based media itself has reached its full potential. Actual stories themselves though have all the potential in the world. Hypertext and the digital medium in general can provide elements for a story that print cannot. Hypertext can surprise readers through links and present them with changing environments through pictures, video and sound. There could be a real social aspect and the stories can be updated with new additional chapters and other content. If someone feels that print is too limited for their story, they may find the affordances of digital hypertext to be a better suit and let out their creativity that way.

“I want my fiction to be more like a world full of things that you can wander around in, rather than a record or memory of those wanderings.”(Jackson)


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Hypertext and The Babysitter

Hypertext is an evolution of the traditional text found in books. Today it compliments print-based media, but it is heading in a direction where it may eventually become the most popular way to read any sort of text. Hypertext is more dynamic than traditional text because of how links are incorporated. An author may use links to simulate moving onto another page similarly to a print-based linear story, but many authors have taken advantage of links by making a non-linear or multi-linear story. I like these sorts of stories because the user can experiment with text and follow their own path. This is like why I enjoy video games so much. Sure, there could be just one ending, but how you got there may vary among people. The Babysitter by Robert Coover is a story that is a bit ahead of its time. It has the content that one may find in a modern hypertext story, but it is all mashed together and is still formatted similarly to a print-based story. I had to read the first few pages a few times because I was so confused. It jumps around so suddenly across different settings and potential outcomes. The reader follows the disaster the babysitter faces at home as well as what happens outside the home with the parents. A hypertext platform we have today like Twine would be a much better format for this.

“Most authors of the hypertext fiction started writing in the new media not only to explore the affordances of the digital, but also with awareness of the position of literature with in a broader and rapidly shifting media ecology.”


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1/18 Combinatory Writing

If I were to show someone the readings about Taroka Gorge without giving them context of how they were put together, they would probably get frustrated because they include realistic phrases that encourage them to keep reading but provide no meaning. The stories I looked at were made with JavaScript and used random variables to put together certain words to make grammatically correct phrases or sentences. The program is designed to do this, but it is not really telling a story. I could say the works are about Taroka Gorge, but they are really just words that somewhat relate to Gorge randomly put together. I agree with Rettberg when he says, “This sort of story, like the output of many text generators, invites the reader’s involvement not by providing an excess of detail but, instead, by proving the reader with a minimal sketch, with a great deal of interpretation space left for the reader to fill in” (Rettberg 42). I look at the phrases within these works as images to be used when thinking of my own story of Taroka Gorge or a place similar. I have never been to Taroka Gorge before, so thinking about these works in relation to another place helps me remember aspects of it I may have forgotten. This is the effect combinatory writing has on readers. It lets them apply it in whatever way they want rather than forcing them to understand it in a certain way set by the author. I still think there is more value in engaging with a story that has real construction, but ones like these provide an interesting alternative.

“Minimal outlines such as this can serve as provocations, engaging our imaginations with prompts to flesh out a richer storyworld than actually denoted by the text that appears on screen” (Rettberg 42).

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